Radha Kapoor bets high on fintech revolution, plans Rs 100cr AIF for startups

By Aparajita Choudhury|21st Jul 2017
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Keen to incubate new-age businesses, Radha Kapoor’s fintech accelerator program, ISME ACE, offers seed funding of $100,000, access to financial services partner firms, marketing and technology support, and focused mentorship

She’s the daughter of Rana Kapoor, Founder and Chairperson of YES Bank, but Radha Kapoor decided never to let that infringe on her identity. Her father, too, let her free to follow her dreams.

So Radha went to Parsons School of Design, New York, to hone her creative potential. She has always believed in the philosophy of DICE (Design, Innovation and Creativity-led Entrepreneurship) and while nurturing next-gen entrepreneurs under ISDI WPP School of Communication and Indian School of Management & Entrepreneurship (ISME), she noticed that fintech was a part of the broader ecosystem.

Radha Kapoor, Founder & Executive Director, ISDI

With her father being a crucial part of the banking system, she knew the importance of creativity when it comes to solving problems even in financial services – using technological tools like Blockchain, artificial intelligence, IoT, etc.

Her ideas metamorphosed into a fintech accelerator programme, ISME ACE.

The ISME ACE Accelerator was inaugurated by Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on June 26, 2017.

Helping startups start up

But Radha’s no stranger to setting up things. In July 2013, she launched Indian School of Design and Innovation (ISDI Parsons Mumbai) in collaboration with Parsons School of Design. Spread over 6,50,000 sq ft in the heart of Mumbai, ISDI houses academic spaces, accelerators and other business interests. The ecosystem houses India’s largest startup accelerators – ISME ACE (focused on fintech) and ISDI ACE (focused on design and innovation) – along with three “new-age” schools, and has plans to set up India’s first culinary incubator.

But ISME ACE has all her attention now and she is endeavouring to support the transformation of Mumbai Metropolitan Region into the fintech capital of India.

Radha says:

“Through ISME ACE we provide a host of benefits to fintech startups, including seed funding of $100,000 gross, access to financial services partner firms, focused mentorship, marketing and technology support. We are also in the process of setting up a SEBI-registered alternative investment fund (AIF) of Rs 100 crore to give a push to fintech startups.”

ISME ACE aims to on-board up to 12 startups in September this year and has begun accepting applications for the first cohort. The focus sectors are alternate lending, financial inclusion, smart authentication and security, insurance tech, wealth management & robo advisory, payments and remittance and customer services. All these revolve around financial activities a common man performs - pay, borrow, lend, insure or invest.

Startups with solutions in financial services, in B2C, B2B or B2B2C space, are welcome to apply for the accelerator program. The focus will be on startups leveraging technologies such as SMAC (social, mobile, analytics and cloud), artificial intelligence and Blockchain.

A tryst with entrepreneurship

When Radha returned to India, she found entrepreneurship in the air with her peers working on various new-age creative ventures. Guided by her father, Radha set up The Three Sisters: Institutional Office (TTS:IO), along with her two sisters – Rakhee and Roshini – to incubate new-age businesses in India.

As reported by the Economic Times, Radha, Raakhee and Roshini, through their office, are looking to pump $150 million (Rs 965 crore) in education, tourism, family entertainment and agri-logistics startups. The report also stated that they have invested $100 million across various firms in nine years of existence.

Her newest venture, ISME ACE has so far received applications from over 12 countries. They plan to have two batches for the four-month programme, followed by a demo day where the cohort startups will pitch to full house of investors.

“We expect to receive 500 applications from across the globe. This will be narrowed down to around 30 startups who will be invited to pitch at the ISME ACE campus. The final 12 will be selected for the cohort,” Radha says.

The applications will be screened by investors, prominent startup founders, partners from KPMG and ISME ACE mentors. The criteria include team, idea, potential, revenue model, cash generation and usage statistics.

Collaborating for the future

In a bid to develop a collaborative ecosystem, the ISME ACE programme has partnered with multiple stakeholders such as IBM and Amazon for technology, Luthra & Luthra for advisory support, Indian Angel Network, TiE & LetsVenture for investor and entrepreneurial network support, and KPMG for knowledge support. Let’s Talk Payments is their innovation partner while AWFIS is the infrastructure partner.

The startups will not need to spend to avail services from the partners.

KPMG will provide fintech startups with leads on global partners who can help in multiple ways, from advice to networking to fundraising.

Fintech blog Let’s Talk Payments (LTP) will enable startups to innovate and grow with the help of the LTP network comprising industry experts, corporate professionals and technology experts.

As the ISME ACE campus is located in Mumbai, co-working space firm AWFIS will provide the startups with office space in case they are based out of Delhi or Bangalore.

Radha is aiming to on-board close to 60 startups in the next two years for the ISME ACE fintech accelerator.

“Fintech adoption is increasing rapidly across the globe. India is no. 2 in the world, second only to China. Trends suggest that India will be the world leader in the near future. We believe that Mumbai will lead the charge in making India a global fintech leader,” Radha says.

Website: ISME ACE